All-gender washrooms coming to UTM

white washroom icons on a blue background
Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 5:06pm
Blake Eligh

Multi-user all-gender washrooms are coming to U of T Mississauga this fall. Professor Ulrich Krull, UTM’s interim vice-president and principal, made the announcement during town hall meetings at the end of September, just ahead of the project rollout in October.

While there are many single use washrooms across the university’s three campuses, and a multi-user privacy change room at UTM’s Recreation, Athletics and Wellness Centre, the all-gender facilities are the first public facilities available at U of T.

“By expanding the washroom options on campus, we are able to offer conveniently located, accessible and comfortable facilities for a greater number of people,” says Nic Weststrate, UTM’s interim equity & diversity officer. “We heard from UTM community members—staff, faculty and students—who were concerned about the lack of options on campus for a basic everyday human function. UTM is an inclusive campus, and part of inclusivity includes ensuring space is available where people feel comfortable and the physical structure reflects their identity.”

Six existing single-gender washrooms will be converted into multi-user all-gender facilities in the Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex, Deerfield Hall and the Communication, Culture and Technology building. Conversion plans to be implemented over the fall semester include the addition of new stall enclosures, installation of clear signage for the revamped use and a public education campaign. In the CCT building, urinals will be semi-private, separated by dividers. In Deerfield Hall and the Health Sciences Complex, private enclosures will be installed around urinals.

“The choice of locations was very thoughtful,” Weststrate says. “Single-user spaces are a Band-Aid solution. They’re often an afterthought, tucked into an out-of-the-way spot. We felt it was important to do multi-stall all-gender washrooms in areas that are easily accessible to everyone.”

The conversions are the first phase of an initiative that will ensure all members of the UTM community can find facilities on campus. A committee of UTM stakeholders is also considering conversion of bathrooms in other existing buildings on campus, and has secured a commitment that all new buildings will include all-gender washrooms.

“These are spaces where many members of the UTM community will feel more comfortable,” Weststrate says. “That includes transgender people, but also families with young children, individuals with a personal care attendant as well as cis-gender people, male and female, who feel more comfortable in an all-gender space. Community members who prefer single-gender restrooms will find them on other floors.”

“We want our campus community to be open and welcoming to people of all genders, and this is another step in the right direction,” says Mark Overton, dean of student affairs. ““One of our goals is to help everyone find places to pee in peace. Although people have always been welcome to use the washroom they feel most comfortable in here, clearly identifying some washrooms as all-gender while keeping others gender-specific allows for greater, and hopefully more comfortable, choices for everyone.”

Read the FAQ page > www.utm.utoronto.ca/edo

Related reading: In 2015, UTM took part in the Washoom Inclusivity Project, a survey of public use facilities across U of T campuses. Data collected helped to map campus facilities that fit a variety of individual needs, including foot-washing stations; adult and infant change stations, and automatic door openers and hand dryers.